Monday, February 28, 2011

Time travel.

Let's set the Wayback Machine for July, 1973. It was the summer after my junior year of college. I had signed up for some inconsequential classes at UVM, with the sole purpose of spending another summer in Vermont (remember: cows). I became friendly with another girl and three French exchange students. We decided on a road trip one weekend to her house in Massachusetts to show the Frenchmen more of the states. (Sorry, I am only going to tell the quilt-related parts of this story.)
At her house, my friend shows me a quilt that she is making and little electrical sparks are set off in my brain. I am including this photo of us because not only am I with the person who would introduce me to quilting, I am wearing an Indian patchwork jumper! The stars were aligned!! (remember: it was the Age of Aquarius).

I had already learned to sew and had made the usual peasant blouses and tiered skirts, but was ready to try something new. There were lots of local fabric stores in those days, but they mainly sold fabrics for garment making. Cottons were hard to find. I had mainly seen pictures of quilts made from calicos, so I went hunting for those. It took visits to multiple sewing stores to find the four I needed. As you can see, the values and textures of them are almost identical; partly from necessity and partly from ignorance, I think.

You've already heard about the cardboard templates and scissors. It's especially funny here because I'm only using one rectangular shape, but I still had to trace and cut around each one. It was hand quilted in a quilting frame. Muslin backing was brought around to the front for the edging.

I used this quilt proudly for at least 15 years and it still means enough to me to occupy valuable real estate in my attic. What I have learned about quilting since then---well, from a technical standpoint, I think that's obvious! But with every new skill and hunk of fabric also came great joy, friendships, and artistic fulfillment. I can't imagine my life without it!


  1. That's a pretty snazzy design for the 70's! I love hearing the story of this quilt and those times. So when do we get to hear about the Frenchmen??? Are they still around???

  2. great story. i love the brown print.
    i also like exchange students.. we're ready for more of that story too..

  3. Vermont is quit country and you caught the fever. So glad you did!

  4. What a great story, well, the part of it that you've told so far! Haha.
    My first quilt was all squares. I hadn't even thought of rectangles yet.
    Thanks for this story. And the photo. I think we're the same age, and it was fun to see the 70's again.

  5. Why do the men look cute and the women...well...look dorky??? LOL Love the picture and the story, Janet. My first quilt looks very similar. Good ole' rail fence.


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